Thursday, 22 July 2021
Wednesday, 21 July 2021
Monday, 12 July 2021
For a long time, I’ve been hoping that, at the end of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, Australia would remain a constitutional monarchy but change from the UK’s Royal Family to that of Denmark, on the grounds that the Crown Princess of Denmark is an Australian citizen - or was before her marriage.
That still left Britain with the problem of having the current UK Queen’s son as King. He and his oldest son have no understanding of their roles and spend masses of time gabbling about “issues” - mental health, the environment, all things green - making themselves unsuitable for the entirely neutral role of monarch (& don’t get me started on the younger one).
But now I have a solution for Britain too: Charles, as a divorced man, cannot any longer be included in the succession, as the job includes being Defender of the Faith (which is to say the church). Thus he is out - and I trust that means that his children are also, since the marriage they are a result of was dissolved, (I suspect in fact this bit is where things get tricky but in that case I would say William must relinquish his rights as he has too clearly declared his politics, having chosen to appear at Davos, for pity’s sake, as well as regularly berating his future subjects on their poor environmental behaviour) .
My idea is based on an understanding of succession that sees the crown pass to the current queen’s second male heir. Yes, I admit, on the face of it that might appear less than ideal. But remember we live in a time of gender fluidity - in fact, go further; embrace that new state of affairs.
For you see, when it comes to the British monarchy, the doctrine of transgenderism can be supremely restorative. All it takes is for Princess Anne to declare that she identifies as male and is therefore second in line to the throne and all will be well. King Anne will be a hugely capable successor to her mother and Britain will be able to look forward to another decade or two of wise, unpoliticised regal leadership.
Thursday, 8 July 2021
A friend sent me this link to a story I’d never heard of by EM Forster. It is set in a world where humanity has surrendered to science and technology and accepted that life is better and safer when lived cut off from other human beings, alone in cells that are well-provisioned with electronic communication and entertainment, taken care of by the Machine.
It is a world where “people never touched one another - the custom had become obsolete.”
One character makes a break for it and experiences the outdoors, briefly. “I had got back the sense of space and a man cannot rest then,” he tells his mother, once he is back inside, safe under the control of the protective Machine again.
I don’t generally enjoy science fiction of this kind, where no explanation is given for how the usual way of life - as experienced, with minor adjustments, through all of history - has been swept away and replaced with whatever brand of weirdness the writer would have me believe has taken its place. But after the last two years I don't feel so strongly about the need for some kind of back story. I've had to recognise how easily and quickly everything can alter, and how little anyone really seems to mind.
At a certain point in the story, quite a radical change is made by the Machine. “The development was accepted quietly”, Forster tells us. Once I would have scoffed and insisted to myself that this was poor psychology. Now I know better.
Saturday, 3 July 2021
Probably two or three times a day since Matt Hancock, then UK Secretary of State for Health, resigned, a phrase coined by a former Australian politician has floated into my mind. "Relevance deprivation syndrome" is the phrase, and its coiner was one Gareth Evans, about whom I will tell you nothing, as he is a person best forgotten, (something he discovered after leaving parliament, leading him to come up with the phrase.)
Imagine the unappetising Hancock - before his resignation he was ubiquitous, he had power, he was unignorable. Every minute of his day was busy, (and those that weren't were spent doing things that excited him, as witnessed by the bit of CCTV that caused his downfall.)
Now he wakes up and finds no messages on his telephone, no schedule unrolling before him, no demands and pleadings, no bowings, no scrapes. There's just him and his new lady love and no-one else wanting to speak to him. No driver, no appointments, no one remotely interested in his views or ideas.
Although I call myself a Christian, I am not a very good one, because what I think, when I think of Mr Hancock and his relevance deprivation syndrome is: ha ha ha ha ha.
Monday, 28 June 2021
It was such a delight to discover while reading an article in a publication called, oddly enough, The Article, that Waugh can be added to the group of two - me and GM Davis - who hold dissident views on the architect whose name is Gaudi.
For Waugh, according to the article I was reading, believed that Gaudí’s creations:
“apotheosised all the writhing, bubbling, convoluting, convulsing soul of the Art Nouveau . . .The effect was that of a clumsily iced cake . . . [The walls] were made to look like caves . . . all wildly and irrelevantly curved, as if drawn by a faltering hand . . . He is a great example of what art-for-art’s-sake can become when it is wholly untempered by considerations of tradition or good taste.”
Is this more proof that Waugh was a genius? Surely yes.
Saturday, 26 June 2021
Friday, 25 June 2021
Well, now you don’t have to choose between the two! Come on down to the latest tourist find in the Antilles! The tiny Hungarian island of Saint Laszlo awaits you!
Yes! Saint Laszlo is one of the last undiscovered gems of the Caribbean, an island so small and insignificant that even Hungarians had forgotten about this relic of their imperial splendor nestled between the Venezuelan coast and Key West, Florida. Since 1989, however, more and more Saint Laszlonians have been traveling abroad, and more tourists are discovering this Uralic sandbar in Paradise, with its quaint customs, savoury cuisine, and bad telephone system.
Saint Laszlo, an uninhabited island known to the Arawak indians of the Caribbean as “Guaccatuccaijandebrecen” was discovered during the 17th century by Spanish pirates, who used the tiny (one mile wide, four miles long) islet as a base to wash dishes and read the newspaper in between raids on English and french shipping. During the 18th century the island passed from the crown of Spain to the British, and then in quick succession to the French, the Swedish crown, back to the British, then to a Spanish concession, French again, then to the Danes, and then back to the British. The colonial powers imported African slaves via Brazil and Cuba to work on the clam plantations along the coast, but with the collapse of the inland’s aloe vera industry (shampoo having not yet been invented) the island lapsed into an economic depression and tropical torpor. During the Napoleanic wars, however, the local British commissioner for the island hosted a delegation from the Hapsburg crown, and the island was lost in a game of poker to Count Laszlo Turoczy de Lakotelep, a Hungarian nobleman. The Count was a great supporter of Hungarian independence, and as soon as the Hapsburg delegation had left the island, Count de Lakotelep hoisted the flag of the Hungarian crown, poured himself a stiff rum punch, emancipated the island’s population, and went fishing.
Spurred by postcards sent home by the illustrious Count, other Hungarians were eager to emigrate to this minute outpost of Hungary in the colonial Caribbean. The first shipload of fourteen arrived in 1817, with a couple more a few years later. After an influx of refugees following the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, the Count felt the island had gotten too crowded and stopped sending postcards. The economy of Saint Laszlo underwent sweeping changes with the collapse of the plantation system. A visitor from Trinidad wrote in the 1850s “Today I paid a courtesy visit to the Count’s aloe holdings in the parish of New Pesht, but as the labourers were far more interested in the drinking of their coffee and the reading of their newspapers, nothing could get done.” Energy was diverted from agriculture to bureaucracy, and soon Saint Laszlo was exporting rubber stamps and countless carbon copies of pointless documents to other islands.
During the negotiations leading to the historic 1867 compromise between the Hapsburg crown and the Hungarian Parliament, the colonial compact defining Saint Laszlo’s status was unfortunately lost in a stack of papers at a coffeehouse after one too many brandies, and Hungarian possession of the island was simply forgotten. Except for a few family contacts and a trickle of immigration, Saint Laszlo was to spend the next century in rum and palinka soaked obscurity.
After 1989, however, the island’s economy was on the verge of collapse, and increasing numbers of Saint Laszlonians chose to emigrate to London and New York, where increasingly met with other Hungarians. Saint Laszlonians are renowned for their skill as taxi drivers, and upon hearing Hungarian spoken in their cabs, they would respond in the native Saint Laszlonian patois, a rich mixture of Hungarian and Caribbean English and Haitian creole. This often resulted in better tips, and increasing numbers of Saint Laszlonians began taking their vacations at Lake Balaton. Today ties between the island and the Hungarian motherland are growing, although true to the scale of Saint Laszlo, in very small amounts.
In an effort to get Soros money for a women’s center and kick start a tourist industry, Saint Laszlo today celebrates its Pannonian heritage and is open to all who seek their own Uralic place in the sun!
THINGS TO KNOW!
Getting there. Difficult. Saint Laszlo’s harbor town, Portopotti can be reached by regular kayak, canoe, and rowboat service from Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, and someplace off the coast of Panama (ask for Carlos). Air Saint Laszlo and Malev have recently agreed to provide regular service with a new fleet of ultralight aircraft and paragliders from their new hub air-service in Des Moines.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Saint Laszlo Dept. Of Tourism
Darvas Lili Road 2
Thursday, 24 June 2021
Thank goodness. How joyous. I hated everything about those old days.
All the same, when I see some small relic of that former reality, I relish it. Not because I’m nostalgic, not out of any sense of regret, but because they are tiny reminders embodying the utter trashiness of that old world. As the years go by & the sheer awfulness of Communism as practised in Eastern Europe is remembered by fewer & fewer who actually experienced it, I think the unnoticed relics of the former ghastliness become more & more important to preserve.
Here are some examples I saw today - imagine a whole world of such battered rustiness & flimsy quality. East of Austria, that was the deprived world of every European country from shortly after World War Two until 1989:
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Since I was 14 or 15, (that is, since a very long time), I have been conscious of the need to use little or no plastic; waste no food; walk whenever possible, or use public transport; locally source to reduce pollution; and so forth and so on.
I was surprised then some years ago when a bunch of people burst onto the scene, (most of them, strangely, accompanied at all times by disposable plastic bottles of water, [a brand-new must-have back then]), haranguing the rest of us not about pollution but about what was at first called global warming but then, when it became clear that not all weather is hot weather, was given a brand makeover and renamed climate change.
I remained aghast at the way cars seemed to be taking over the landscape, China seemed to be a giant smogbound nature destroyer (as was the Soviet Union and its satellites before it [exhibit a: the Aral Sea*]), but something niggled at me about those who exhorted us to tackle climate change, rather than pollution.
At last when I read a statement put out in November 2019 by that strange media creation Greta Thunberg, along with a couple of her less well-known colleagues, I understood where my concern about the movement rested. This was the passage that made things clear for me:
“The climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice, and of political will. Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fuelled it. We need to dismantle them all. Our political leaders can no longer shirk their responsibilities.”
The advocates of climate change believe capitalism is the problem, when in fact the majority of the very worst examples of pollution have been created by totalitarian governments. Dismantling our systems, while leaving China to merrily wreak havoc on the air, the rivers and the land, is a certain way to destroy everything that is good on this planet.
* Here is AA Gill's essay on the Aral Sea, from July 2000 - it is a marvellous piece of writing (whenever I read it I wonder what became of Gary); if you want more, it comes from AA Gill is Away, ISBN 978-0-7538-1681-3, Weidenfeld and Nicolson: